‘Balloon fish’ claims 2 lives

Scientists say Puffer fish are considered the second most poisonous creatures in the world. Photo: Google
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Two people have died at New Takwa village, Nusatuva island, Western province, after reportedly consuming a poisonous fish commonly known as Balloon fish.

Eight others are also recovering from this fish poisoning incident.

Balloon fish, or Puffer fish, which goes by the general scientific name Tetraodontidae, are highly poisonous due to the poisonous substance, Tetrodotoxin, it contains in its skin and liver.

A close relative to the victims, Wilson Wanefasi told Island Sun the victims felt sick after eating the fish on Saturday (June 12).

“I was at the hospital yesterday [Sunday] and was talking to some of the victims who are my relatives. According to information I gathered, the poisonous fish was left in a canoe at the beach by an old man who was out diving on Friday night.

“Early on Saturday morning the woman (deceased) and the kids saw the fish and filleted the fish.

“They took the fish’s stomach and eggs, went back to their home and fried the fish’s intestine and the eggs.

“After eating, the victims felt the impact of the poison and were rushed to Ringi clinic,” he explained.

Wanefasi said the woman was pronounced dead at the clinic upon arrival while the young deceased passed away while the rescue team tried to transport the victims to Gizo Hospital.

He said the kid was a grade-five student of Ringi Primary School.

Wanefasi said the eight survivors all of whom are kids were rushed to Gizo Hospital for medical treatment and survived the tragedy. They were transported back to their village on Monday.

Meanwhile Wanefasi said the sad incident gives a lesson not only for victims’ families but also the people of Solomon Islands about this highly toxic fish type.

He says it is time responsible authorities give awareness country-wide on which fish are non-edible in our waters, and also overseas for people travelling out.

Attempts to get comment from the Western Province’s Health and Medical Authority proved unsuccessful when this paper went to print yesterday.

According to researchers, almost all species of Puffer fish contain a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin that can be 1200 times stronger than cyanide.

The neurotoxin damages the nervous system, particularly blocking the communication channels between the brain and the body, paralysis occurs and the lungs and heart fail, and the animal or person dies within minutes.

One Puffer fish contains enough toxins in its liver to kill 30 human adults. For this reason, Puffer fish are considered the second most poisonous creatures in the world.